I Sang She

Tonight with my two tiny children before bed, one clutching my hand, the other flying wordlessly into sleep, I sang them the same primary songs I have sung them every night for the past five years.  My son sang some of the words with me and I had the
distinct feeling that these songs will be theirs forever, the melodies and words will be make up the threads of their spiritual lives long after I am singing them to sleep.maxwell bird

As I sang, I did something that I hadn’t done before, not because the idea hadn’t occurred to me, but more because my religious experience has been as much one of rules as it has been of freedom to move beyond those rules.  Even as a grown woman very comfortable with speaking, thinking, figuring out and experimenting with spirituality for myself, I had never out loud sang the words to those familiar primary songs with a female pronoun.  As I sang, I am a child of God, and She has sent me here, my children did not balk at the change.  If they noticed, they did not say, but it felt right to give it to them.  It felt warm, it felt calm singing those words out into the dark.  I sang the repertoire replacing the singular pronoun for the word “Parents” in some cases, and going back and forth between “She” and “He” in other cases.

The act didn’t feel subversive, it didn’t feel progressive.  It felt like me, as a mother, singing about a Mother I’d like my children to know, even if it is something as simple as the fact that She is there.

After I finished, I lay in the bed for a while next to my sleeping children and thought about how the heart moves so quietly into meadows of content and hope.  These last months my heart has felt a little battered as I’ve tried to navigate my way in a church that sometimes feels a little foreign–different from the simple and bright faith of my childhood and youth.  In this most simple and familiar of moments, my heart felt a peace I haven’t felt in a while while I did something nearly imperceptible to anyone else, as I sang those words in a small, moonlit room to my children.

I don’t know what the thing is that your heart might need, but I imagine it is different than mine.  What I do know is that the gospel of Christ feels real and inspiring to me when I use my own energy, thoughts and ideas in conjunction with what I know and believe. When I move through the actions I’ve done all my life with intentionality, sometimes with an experiment or change that maybe initially feels difficult or just different, the faculties of my spirit feel alive.

When I am completely surprised by what unfolds in those moments, then I know my heart is being healed.  I am reminded that my spirituality, my relationship to my Heavenly Parents belongs to no one else, belongs to no policy, no cultural unrest, no institution.  I don’t know where the heart intends to go when it it moves so slowly, but for me, a primary song into the dark felt a reach of faith, and I have no doubt that I was reached back to in return.


  1. I feel like a mother in parallel, here at Primary Children’s, as I lay here watching my daughter try to sleep. It’s dark in here, except for the glow of screens and monitors. It’s dark, but I’m her mother. That’s the thing about mothers–they go with you to the dark places. They are the last safety net, the final barrier, when all others have fled away. I suspect our Mother in Heaven is no different.
    Thanks for these lovely thoughts.

  2. Cathy, I don’t know why you are there, but many blessings of peace to you and your daughter and thank you for your beautiful thoughts. I love that idea of the final barrier, and that a mother in heaven is the same. I do feel that.

  3. Steve S says:

    I like it. I have a feeling that these kinds of things will become common in the not so distant future.

  4. Last night, as I watched my daughter and many others in their dress rehearsal for their dance recital, I felt moved to pray for the protection of these beautiful young women. As I prayed, tears in my eyes, I was moved, for the first time in my life, to pray to my Heavenly Mother. Like you, it felt right, and easy, and normal. I’ve never felt the need for a Heavenly Mother until last night, but as I eased back into focusing on the dancing I was left with the distinct impression that our world will not be healed until we discover and honor the divine feminine. Thank you for this Ashmae.

  5. Kevin Barney says:


  6. I have recently started singing this way to my newborn daughter, and it has been powerful for me, some of my most sacred moments recently.

  7. I do the same with “My Heavenly Mother Loves Me.” One of my favorite adaptations.

  8. Ashmae, I love your writing, and this piece was particularly beautiful. I’m a week away from my due date. And as the big day approaches, I naturally feel more and more of a longing for Mother… a need to feel Her with me and strengthening me as I bring this little one into the world, as well as a fear that for whatever reason, that won’t/can’t happen. I’m grateful you felt like your reach was responded to, and pray mine will be, too.

    Also, I hope you never stop writing.

  9. Aly H, this is so so kind. And more importantly, you are about to bring a baby into the world and I am positive that your reach will be eagerly attended to. Not just by a Heavenly Mother, but also by so many women who have come before you. I will pray that that will happen for you too. Also, I just finished my manuscript for the Maxwell Institute series, so i will actually have a book soon! xo

  10. Jason K. says:

    Blessings, Aly H, as the time draws near.

  11. Kathryn Quinn says:

    I haveva problem with some of the words in our hymns, including some standards such as We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet, Love at Home and I Am a Child of God. I take pkeasure now in either singing words I like better or finding a hymn with the same or similar meter pattern and singing that instead. I highly recommend both.

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